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The right incentive is always helpful Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department has tried to find Virginia Soto, the 47-year-old woman who was arrested on drug-related charges and mistakenly detained in the jail’s male unit, living and showering with male inmates. But this time, it may be the city’s plaintiffs bar that has more interest in locating her. Although Soto didn’t file any complaint before she was released from jail, some trial lawyers are already speculating that the city could face a pricey lawsuit if Soto resurfaces. “Depending on the trauma and emotional distress of the individual, this incident definitely has prima facie value,” said Keith Watters of Keith Watters & Associates in Washington. Wayne Cohen, managing partner of Washington’s Cohen & Cohen, agreed. “The woman would probably receive a substantial amount of damages,” he said. Punitive damages would come into the picture if Soto can show that correctional officers placed her in the male unit on purpose, Watters noted. “If you knew her name and address, you could get to her. But a lot of people in jail don’t have permanent addresses,” Watters said. � Legal Times Cartoon justice Cartoonist Greg Fox imagines a world where being gay on the job is just great � as long as one doesn’t mind wearing a hazmat suit “so as not to infect the rest of the staff with your blasphemy.” That “you can’t be fired for being gay anymore” is one of the “4 Reasons for Gays to Be Grateful” Fox presents in a cartoon that won first prize in a contest sponsored by Lambda Legal. The group, which advocates on behalf of gay, lesbian and transsexual people and those with HIV, sponsored the “Life Without Fair Courts” contest as a reminder in light of recent court-bashing that “the role of the courts is to uphold the Constitution and protect people’s rights without political intimidation,” said Lambda’s Hector Vargas. Second prize went to Ted Rall, who asks readers to visualize what the country would be like without major U.S. Supreme Court precedents like Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education. (Rall threw in Bush v. Gore and Korematsu v. U.S. as well, noting, ” ‘Important’ doesn’t always equal ‘good.’ “ Lambda has posted the cartoons on its Web site, along with a separate, commissioned series on the same theme by artist Mikhaela Reid. Fox said in a written statement that he was inspired by listening to talk radio. “You might say my entry in this contest was a response to all of that anti-gay rhetoric I’ve been subjected to on the airwaves,” he said. � Staff Reports Ill fortune Residents thought changing the name of their small village in southern China would improve their fortunes. Instead, it left them in a legal limbo after police computers were unable to register a rare Chinese character that is part of the new moniker. “Many villagers have not been able to get marriage certificates and are facing difficulties while seeking jobs, traveling and dealing in property,” the China Daily reported, citing an earlier report in the Nanguo Metropolitan News. The 50 residents of the hamlet in Wenchang County on the southern island province of Hainan followed a fortune teller’s advice and changed the name “to improve the village’s prosperity,” the report said. The village’s name, Tianmeidong, was changed to Tianwei, plus a third character that even the Nanguo newspaper was forced to describe because its computer could not write it. Great care is taken by some Chinese in picking characters for names based on the total number of lines, or strokes, in the characters. � Associated Press

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